The pace of play will tell you there's a new attitude in the New Richmond boys basketball program this winter.
After graduating eight seniors off last season's team, the Tigers will be extremely young this season. Though they will be young, they won't be timid. These Tigers plan to bare their teeth and play hungry.
The only senior in the starting lineup for the Tigers to start the season is Blake Getschel. Juniors Cole Effertz and Drew Momchilovich become starters after being two of the team's top reserves last season. Sophomore Joey Kidder becomes the team's point guard after seeing some spot duty on the varsity team late in his freshman season.
All four of these players are long, lean and athletic. That commonality is what the coaches are planning to structure the team around, not just this season, but for the foreseeable future.
"We'll try to play according to those strengths," said Tiger coach Rick Montreal. "We want to utilize our attributes, so that means we'll try to play a little faster at both ends of the court. I see this as a shift in our program, based on what we have in the 9-12 levels."
With the four veteran players all standing between 6-2 and 6-4 with long wingspans, the Tigers plan to play a disruptive style of defense that leads to turnovers. And the Tigers plan to put just as much pressure on their opponents in the offensive end by playing a fast-moving style that creates open looks.
Montreal said there will be only eight or nine players on the varsity this season. The lower number of players, plus the increased tempo, means there will be more physical demands on the players.
"We've run more (in practice), we've got to be conditioned for that style of play," Montreal said.
The Tigers opened the season last Tuesday, facing a talented Rice Lake team that has two players getting numerous college recruiting calls. The Tigers started slowly in the game. While they played significantly better in the final two-thirds of the game, they couldn't catch the Warriors, losing 60-42.
The Tigers fell behind 13-2 in the opening minutes of the game. Montreal said he wasn't discouraged, for two reasons. He said the Tigers were creating high quality shots, they just weren't falling for them in the opening 12 minutes of the game. The second reason?
"Even after that start, we fought all night long," Montreal said. "We kept defending hard. Then some shots started to go in."
The Tigers got the margin down to 12 points after trailing 35-16 at halftime.
In the first half, the Tigers were ice cold, making 5-25 shots, including going 0-7 on three-point attempts. That improved markedly in the second half, with the Tigers making five threes.
Kidder led the Tigers with 10 points and five assists. Junior Ryan Kling came off the bench to give the team an offensive lift, scoring eight points.
The Tigers are scheduled to begin their Middle Border Conference schedule this Thursday, when they host Osceola. The Tigers will play at defending MBC champion Prescott next Tuesday.
New Tiger fundraiser
The Tigers are hoping to provide community service hours during the winter season through the end of February. Projects team members will do include snow shoveling, sidewalk and deck clearing, Christmas tree pickup and delivery, and snow altering-adjusting-moving.
For a one-time pledge (the team suggests donations starting at $50), they will supply their services within a reasonable timeline of your request, no more than 48 hours after they are contacted. Money raised will go toward basketball expenses, ranging from team gear and equipment to team meals, along with paying for supplemental coaches within the program.
Anyone interested in being involved in the fundraiser can contact Coach Montreal at 715-243-1604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.